Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Home Repair Is Homicide #7

Mallets Aforethought

Rate this book
Jacobia “Jake” Tiptree left her high-powered career for a dilapidated fixer-upper and the dream of a quiet existence in the quaint town of Eastport, Maine. But she found that no matter how carefully you remodel your life, murder can take up residence anywhere.

It’s Eastport’s most notorious landmark: the old Harlequin House. Named for the disgraced physician Chester Harlequin, it was used as a hideout for gunshot gangsters and their molls during Prohibition’s heyday. Now fixer-upper enthusiast Jake Tiptree and Harlequin’s only living descendant, Ellie White, are refurbishing the mansard-roofed mansion to host the local Historical Society’s upcoming gala. But when stripping down old wallpaper reveals a secret door to a room containing not one but two corpses, Jake and Ellie once again find home repair leading to homicide.

One of the bodies is a skeleton dressed in 1920s flapper chic. But the other is that of real-estate mogul Hector Gosling, and in his pocket is a paper bearing the single word “Guilty.” The less-than-scrupulous tycoon has been poisoned, and when it’s learned that the offending substance is the poison that Ellie’s husband George has been using to kill red ants, he is immediately taken into custody. Then it develops that George had recently accused Gosling of a scheme to scam George’s vulnerable old aunt out of her life savings—and George out of his inheritance.

With George held for murder, Jake and a pregnant Ellie swing into action. In between Ellie’s Lamaze sessions, baby showers, and CPR classes taught by Jake’s ex-husband Victor, the two amateur sleuths must sift their way through a trail of seemingly contradictory clues. Then another corpse surfaces and suddenly Jake and Ellie realize they must find this killer fast. A clever culprit is not only building an airtight case against Ellie’s husband. He—or she—is planning to nail everyone who stands in the way.

From the Hardcover edition.

368 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2004

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Sarah Graves

37 books677 followers
Sarah Graves lives with her husband John, a musician and luthier, and their black Labrador Retriever in a house very much like the one Jacobia Tiptree is remodeling in Eastport, Maine. When she's not writing Jake's adventures, Sarah works with her husband on the house and she plays the 5-string banjo.

Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
426 (23%)
4 stars
754 (42%)
3 stars
536 (30%)
2 stars
55 (3%)
1 star
14 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 97 reviews
Profile Image for Victoria.
618 reviews19 followers
July 16, 2018
This one got dangerous! She should be PTSD'd out like mad
Profile Image for Ellie.
1,495 reviews378 followers
June 15, 2011
Mallets Aforethought by Sarah Graves is #7 in Graves' "Home Repair is Homicide" series.

It takes place in a small town in Maine and the protagonist are pair of women home repair experts: Jacobia (known as "Jake") and Ellie, friends and partners in fixing homes and solving crimes.

I had a tough time rating this one-it really is a half-star case for me: better than a 2 star "ok" but not quite a whole-hearted 3-star "I liked it." I enjoyed the location and the characters were comfortable to spend time with.

What the story needs badly, though, is a plot. I saw the murderer coming a mile (or at least the page-equivalent of) away. And although I'm not too demanding when it comes to clever plots and killers, this one was too tired to stand up even in tv rerun. Which was sort of how I felt reading it-that I'd seen it before. In fact, more than once.

But because I liked the characters and the setting, I may give the series another chance, perhaps trying one of the first few.

Because I liked the writing and the people. I just really need a little bit of surprise.
Profile Image for Kristen.
632 reviews35 followers
June 27, 2021
I'm several chapters into this book and am enjoying it VERY much, in spite of the author's unfortunate overuse of certain literary devices. The story is excellent and the characters are fun and compelling. This is better than the average cozy, for sure.

The series is set in a small town in maine, which is interesting in itself, but the author doesn't make a big deal out of it; the setting runs, as it should, in the background, and the characters interact with it seamlessly. The slang and casual expressions the characters use are all regional and amusing to my southern ear.

I actually recommend this series for light, fun reading, even to people who aren't into cozies. I like it enough that I bought the first four books because the library doesn't have them!

Profile Image for Darla.
118 reviews
November 29, 2011
Disappointing. This is the 7th in the "Home Repair is Homicide" series, and based on this book, I won't be reading the others. The setting is neat (Maine), but the characters and plot are only semi-interesting, and I am very annoyed with the author's writing style; she interrupts herself (and her characters) a LOT and it makes her writing very stilted and awkward to read. An example: "'So Cory,' George went on, 'has to eliminate the ants.'" Not annoying if it were once in awhile written like that, but most conversations between characters have almost every other line being interrupted, and I just couldn't get used to it. May try listening to these on audio books and see if that helps. In the meantime, I'll be reading other things.
Profile Image for Awwwtrouble.
600 reviews8 followers
May 4, 2015
7th book in this series - and luckily it was available at the library. The rest of the series is also at the library, so I will continue, but I hope she's got some tricks up her sleeve moving forward. The murderer was telegraphed pretty early - as another reviewer said, once a new character is introduced early it's a pretty good bet said character is the murderer. And this one was telegraphed with flashing red lights, and the story thinned out considerably from there.

Graves does a great job with the main set of characters, but after 7 books in a small town you'd think there's be more recurring characters. Well, we'll see hat the next one brings.
Profile Image for Sarah.
33 reviews
October 15, 2018
Not quite a 3 star rating, more like a 2.8 star

I’m surprised this book was better than the others. Granted I still kind of zoned out for a portion of the book. As well as the fact that characters just randomly popped up with no explanation and we were just to assume we should know who they are without being introduced to any of them.

This book picked up in the last 1/4, I did enjoy that and wish that the first 3/4s of the book matched it.

Profile Image for Susan.
802 reviews39 followers
September 6, 2017
When I picked this one up and marked it as "Currently Reading", my Goodreads list showed it as "Read", but I remembered absolutely nothing about it. I'm going back to pick up the books I've missed in this series because I do enjoy Sarah Graves' writing, the setting and the characters. I figured out who-dun-it, but I enjoyed the book anyway.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,270 reviews
November 21, 2016
"Jake" and Ellie find not just one corpse, but TWO when they open a secret room in the historic house they are helping to restore. One seems to be from the 1920'2-30's but the other... far more recent!
Ellie's husband George is accused of the murder and the ladies finding themselves in the search for the killer.
Profile Image for Shirley.
Author 1 book6 followers
June 30, 2012
Another very good Sarah Graves mystery. Can't imagine how a real live person could sustain all the injuries she receives in every book, but then that is what makes it fiction. Good plot once again.
Profile Image for Karen Keyte.
274 reviews3 followers
February 5, 2023
Ah! Finally an explanation for why secondary character Tommy Daigle’s surname changed to Pockets (seriously, Pockets? What is he, a junior mafioso?) a few books in the series ago. Clearly, either the author or the editor has noticed all the continuity problems that have plagued these books. Or so I thought. Then, of course, the name Weasel Bodine popped up on a young man of uncertain character. Interestingly, Weasel Bodine (real name Wesley, in both cases) was the name of a victim in Wicked Fix. I realize those of us with families who have been in Maine since the Year Ought often have many relatives, some of whom share the same name, but this is more a recycling of names. As if the author could not be bothered to invent a new one. It’s irritating and it detracts from some otherwise better than average mysteries.
On the mystery front, this one was pretty easy to figure out. It seemed obvious to me who the villain was, due in no small measure to the fact that most of the new characters that were introduced were already deceased. No matter who gets arrested, you know that Jacobia, Ellie, Wade, George, Sam, Tommy, Bob or Clarissa won’t have done it. That leaves someone from away or newly mentioned Eastport native. Still, it was a a good story and moved along at a very good pace.
Profile Image for Cozy Reader Lady.
426 reviews21 followers
February 19, 2022
Great cozy mystery. I had an idea who was the murderer was. It was still a"oh! It was them!" moment. For sure just a mystery book. If you're looking for romance mystery, this is not it and I'm glad for it. I find that it makes a much better read to not have unnecessary flirting/romance scenes. They're just filler and books without them show a better skill of building the story.

I've heard people complain that there isn't enough home repair info for boasting as a home repair series. I disagree. I felt there was just enough. Too much and its filling out a book to make up for a lack in actual story content. This was a just right middle ground. Enough to keep the theme but not hinder the story.
Profile Image for Linda C.
2,137 reviews13 followers
August 18, 2018
Jake and Ellie have volunteered to help fix up the old Harlequin mansion to use for the Historical Society gala. Behind the old wallpaper they find a sealed door and a secret room with 2 bodies, one recent and one old. Ellie's husband George had a grievance with Hector, the recent body, and becomes a prime suspect. The old one, a woman from the 20s, was the mistress of Ellie's uncle who owned the house years ago and was shot in the head. Both women start looking into both murders because of their close connection to Ellie. Side stories on Jake's friend Jemmy and her son Sam's friend Tommy give the story depth. Good mystery.
638 reviews
September 21, 2018
Mallets Aforethoughts is the 7th in the Home Repair is Homicide series with Jacob Tiptree as the main character. She is a married woman living with her second husband and son from her first marriage in the town of Eastport, Maine with a number of family, friends and neighbors in a pretty good series. In this one, her best friend Ellie is about to have a baby and Ellie's husband is jailed for the murder of a realtor who takes advantage of old people to get control of their homes and wealth. I usually really like these and I liked this one as well but it seemed to drag along so I gave it three stars. Look at this as a low spot in the series but I will continue to read them.
Profile Image for ReadWithE.
1,936 reviews24 followers
September 25, 2022
Dnf. I realize this is the 7th book so they might have seen a lot of dead bodies at this point, but these people are at worst sociopaths or at best obstructing justice. You find a dead body, you call the cops. Not meander your way home, get showered and changed, tell a couple people what happened, have them leave, then finally call. Jeez Louise. Also this writing style is off on tangents constantly, further keeping us in limbo as that dead guy just keeps rotting away and the killer and evidence get further away. Super weird.
Profile Image for Marilyn.
50 reviews3 followers
December 2, 2020
I enjoyed the continuing saga of Jacobia Tiptree. These are great books to loose yourself in during stressful times. Jake and Ellie's perils are serious and they survive them cleverly. Good happens along the way. Life is jagged, but endurable, and there is real joy, often. Plus, the tips on house maintenance are real. I give the same review for all her Home Repair is Homicide books, they are good.
543 reviews
July 14, 2017
Jacobia continues her sleuthing in downEast Maine with a cast of enjoyable characters. Her friend Ellie is close to giving birth while her husband is erroneously a suspect in a murder. This is a quick, can't-put-it-down lighthearted read.
Profile Image for Ricki.
816 reviews6 followers
February 19, 2018
Home Repair is Homicide is a great series! You get some home repair information, a bit of history, a bit of Eastport, Maine, geographical information, and a great mystery! Caan;t wait to read the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Jennifer.
559 reviews31 followers
November 6, 2018
In this entry in the Home Repair is Homicide series, Jake finds not one but two dead bodies - one a skeleton many many years old, along with someone from town. Someone not so well liked, and George, the husband of Jake's friend Ellie, is the prime suspect.

Well written and it flows well.
Profile Image for Ann Guanella.
9 reviews
December 4, 2018
Good book

Love these stories, we have an old house and have built a place in a lake far from stores. So improvising is a way of life. I love the stories. They always keep you wondering who did it.
734 reviews
April 30, 2019
Not bad - seems a little random that Ellie is pregnant, but I'm going with "these books happen pretty far apart, so time has gone by." Pretty good read - as usual, I didn't see the killer's identity coming, although I had some suspicions. Loving this series so far!
254 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2020
enjoyed this series not only good characters and storyline. it also has good home repair tips you can use. her ex-husband as a doctor also gives tips through out the book. this book lives up to all expectations. hoping to read more from her.
490 reviews
June 21, 2020
The last detail of the murder is solved and Ellie realizes her baby is coming, she called for an ambulance. But the ambulance was in time to deliver the baby. Most of the story Jake did the sleuthing alone because Ellie was going to have a baby any time and George was on jail on murder charges.
February 15, 2022
I think I’m now a fan this author. I’ve read two of her series and I’ve been very happy. Her female characters are so interesting, so strong, I’m all on board. The mystery felt a little cozy but that was right in this instance, I think it suits this series. Thumbs up.
25 reviews
January 25, 2023
Another great story in one of my favourite series. The ending felt a bit rushed. The small subplot about the 1920's flapper hooked me in, and I read this pretty quick. I really like the home repair tips interspersed here and there through this series.
Profile Image for Sheila Burke.
846 reviews1 follower
February 10, 2023
These books just keep getting better! I'm really enjoying Jacobia and Ellie's adventures. This story was creative and entertaining, and was hard to put down. Much better than expected, and well worth the time to read. Looking forward to the next in the series.
Profile Image for Avid Series Reader.
1,327 reviews1 follower
February 25, 2023
Mallets Aforethought by Sarah Graves is the seventh book of the Home Repair is Homicide mystery series set in contemporary Maine. Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree and her best friend Ellie are busy refurbishing historic Harlequin House, so the Eastport Maine Historical Society can hold a charity gala. They discover a hidden room, complete with corpses. One decades old, one recent and recognizable.

The recent corpse was poisoned, Ellie's beloved husband George has some poison to kill red ants, so the police arrest him. Jake absolutely must solve this crime. Ellie is pregnant, close to term, but insists on sleuthing with Jake anyway. Plenty of delightful Maine slang, interesting plot twists, treachery galore. Jake's desperate ruse to get herself arrested is hilarious. Eventually, she finds herself face-to-face with a killer, alone and defenseless. But never fear; justice triumphs.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 97 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.